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Eye Problem, New Vet for 3rd Opinion.

Discussion in 'Milksnakes' started by Dragoness, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    My Jurassic Milk snake, Puff, has had a recurring eye problem for years now, where the outer layer would swell and fill up with water. He saw one vet while I still lived in FL, who was unable to figure out what the problem was. He saw another here in Michigan, who poked, and prodded, and said "beats me, but here is some ointment for it" (which did nothing).

    I was beginning to think this might just be 'normal' for him, and that maybe his eyecap was just loose, and would fill with water prior to a shed (which is when the swelling was the most prominent.)

    Last week as I was packing for vacation, and checking on everyone before leaving, I noticed that his eye had filled with pus and blood this time instead of water. My mom, awesome snake-sitter that she is said she could take him to the vets so I wouldn't have to cancel my vacation (which I was about to do). An appointment was made, and he went in to a new vet on Wednesday with my mom. I was on the phone with them during this time to make decisions. My mom knows my snakes and their history and husbandry well enough to answer the questions the vet had. She also had his complete health records and notes from previous vets about the problem.

    As it turns out, his eye had abscessed this time. The vet drained it, and rinsed it with saline. The pus was taken for culture, and Puff was given Gentamicin, a broad spectrum antibiotic ointment for his eye. Once the culture results are back, the vet will advise the best antibiotic for what was found, which may or may not be Gentamicin. I should have the results by Monday.

    The vet said that the abscess had not spread to the brain or mouth, which was a concern. Also, it had not originated in one of those places and spread to the eye - which is good news, it means the infection is pretty well contained, and not getting around. She said this was caused by a buildup of shed on the eye, even though it did not appear to have extra layers, and the sheds lately have all showed the eye-caps having come off. She expects that now that the outer layer has been cut, it will fall off soon, probably when applying the ointment. If it doesn't she will remove it when he goes back in for a follow up. As far as we can tell at this point, the infection didn't actually damage the eye itself, and it won't have to be removed (assuming the infection responds to treatment.) He still had an intact operculum underneath the one she cut open, so the eye itself may be totally fine. It's too hard to tell just yet (and far from clear enough to see.)

    I'll try and get some pics, but right now, he looks pretty bad. Other than the eye problem, he is in great health, has good body weight, muscle tone, and activity level. Is still very inquisitive. Overall, the prognosis is pretty good for him right now.
  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    This one is the first time it happened - the operculum everted completely, and filled with clear fluid - around Feb 2011. He shed the day before his vet appointment, and left no evidence that anything was wrong for the vet to look at.
    Picture 028.jpg
    After that, he would consistently have one eye or the other swell up and fill with clear fluids just before a shed (as you can tell, it isn't always the same eye) This picture was taken about a year ago, and you can see the swelling in that eye.

    This time it was his right eye (pics coming.)
  3. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    You can even see the small incision, close to the back of his eye in one of the pictures. Overall, while it may still look bad right now, it looks a lot better than it did when I discovered it on Monday.

  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Wow! I have never seen anything like that! Hopefully they can get things squared away!
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    So far, so good, but still early to tell. The culture was supposed to be in, but they said one more day. He is taking it like a champ though. He tolerates the poking very well, two times a day.

    I'm just all nerves waiting to hear what was growing in his eye, and what needs done to finish it, other than removing the operculum.
  6. JoeyG

    JoeyG Subscribed User Premium Member

    Good luck with that Jen! Poor little guy, glad one of the Vets seems to finally be making some progress on it
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    the culture results came back today. The infection is Psuedomonas. He'll be getting liquid meds orally every 2-3 days, as well as 2x daily chlorhexadine wash for the eye, and 2x daily Gantamicin ointment. He is expected to make a full recovery in 2-3 weeks, if all goes well.
  8. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    ok, Liquid Baytril every 2 days for 3 weeks. Eye to be rinsed with Chlorhexadine and apply the Gentamicin ointment twice each day.

    Anyone who thinks pilling a cat is difficult has never tried to give oral meds to a snake....

    Anyone have any idea how to open his mouth without breaking his teeth? It took 2 of us today to get it open, one to hold him, because he will try to wrap his body around his head, and the other to open his mouth, and try to squirt the meds in. The end result was his mouth bleeding a little, excessive drool from him, and most of the meds just running out the corners of his mouth, even though the syringe was in his throat... And he was blowing bubbles from mouth and nose for some time afterwards.

    Is there any less traumatizing way to do this???

    We used a q-tip to kind of 'roll' his mouth open, and pin his lower jaw so we could get the syringe in.
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    On this note, I have no problems whatsoever opening the mouths of my larger snakes, but this guy, being as small as he is (typical adult male milksnake) is too small for me to open his mouth the same way.

    I'm now worrying if damage to his mouth is only going to complicate things, in terms of him potentially getting mouth rot on top of this...
  10. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    With snakes can't you pinch the neck just behind the head to open the jaw? This is what I did to rattlers and such when learning to milk them but again they were larger snakes...
    As far as mouth rot I wouldn't worry about it. Mouthrot isn't caused by damage to the jaw though other infections can be but he will be on some powerful antibiotics so it will be ok. Just keep his cage clean and sterilized.
  11. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I'm more worried about him infecting any wounds in his mouth, since his immune system is already clearly compromised (if he is sick to begin with). even small wounds can get infected - but I could just be excessively paranoid.

    Even my boas and pythons don't fight this hard when i try to open their mouths.
  12. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    In my experience the smaller the animal the larger the attitude. Just ask my terror-errrr terrier Tig.

    With the current dosing of antibiotics and being extra vigilant about cleaning (which you should be doing just because of the eye thing) then the wounds on his mouth should heal cleanly without infection.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Try getting a piece of vinyl tubing (aquarium airline) that fits the end of the syringe so that you can go farther down the throat. Cut the end of the tubing that is going into the snake at an angle. This gives you an edge that you can use to get the snake's mouth open and vinyl being soft will be less likely to damage the mouth.
  14. bucher70

    bucher70 Elite Member

    I agree with Merlin, maybe even get a red rubber catheter to pass it further down is esophagus. Much less traumatic in my opinion.
  15. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    And a little KY jelly on the tube will make it slide easier.
    I had a hatchling corn that I had to medicate and tube feed every day for 3 months! I got pretty good at it.
  16. LovetheBaruu

    LovetheBaruu Subscribed User Premium Member

    Jen I think you should take him to stay with Uncle Merlin until the meds are done; it will be much easier for you. :-"
  17. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    He is currently living in a hospital cage - paper towels, a water dish, and one hide, with a heat pad (kind for human use) set to low on one end. It stays very clean. We have to clean his water dish a lot (several times a day), because it gets an oily film from his eye ointment, which is petroleum based.

    I offered him a pinky today, and he took it with enthusiasm I have not seen from him in some time. He usually eats large mice or small rats, so this is really just a mouthful for him. I'm wondering if that might be an acceptable delivery method, if I can get him to eat one every 2 days for a while.

    When my indo boa got worms, my vet had me shoot up her pinkies with panacur before feeding, and it worked marvelously.

    Puff clamps his mouth firmly shut when I pick him up, and it doesn't seem to matter how I hold him. I can't get a q-tip, syringe, finger, spatula, spoon handle, tongue depressor, credit card, or anything into his mouth. The most success I have had is getting lip up, and seeing his teeth. He does have a huge attitude for such a small snake.... My big guys are so much calmer on the rare occasions when they need medical attention.
  18. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Well today I thawed another pinky for him, and shot the meds into the pinky. He took it without hesitation. If he is willing to continue accepting his meds in this form, it will save everyone a lot of struggle and/or injury!
  19. bucher70

    bucher70 Elite Member

    Good news. :)
  20. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    His appetite seems to be back, and he's taking all of this like a pro. I honestly think i am more upset about this whole thing than he is. He lets me know he isn't happy about having his eye rubbed 4 times a day, he does his rattlesnake impersonation, and tries to resist it, but he isn't getting hissy or biting at all.

    The only real change I see in his behavior right now is his tendency lately (since we started the antibiotics) to hog the heat mat. He never used to use it ever, except as a toilet. Used to be he never laid on the warm end, but I would find poop there every time without fail.

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